Super Best Audio Friends
The evolution of the original irreverent and irrelevant and non-authoritative site for headphone measurements, i.e. frequency response graphs, CSD waterfall plots, subjective gear reviews. Too objective for subjectivists; too subjective for objectivists
Liquid Gold X (LAuX) has been optimized for balanced operation. It provides great performance Single Ended but clearly best performance is attained in balanced mode. If contemplating this amplifier, balanced headphone cables will prove a wise choice. LAuX falls squarely in the transparent design camp. Attributes of low output impedance, low residual noise, low distortion, high bandwidth, fast transient response definitely contribute to extraordinarily clean performance.
Typical of Cavalli designs bandwidth is quite wide, DC to > 500KHz with 30R load and DC to > 600KHz with 300R load.
Dynamic Range is greater than 113 dB relative to 0 dBu in balanced mode.
Note particularly the exceptionally low IMD for all two tone tests, not just 19+20 KHz which is impressive.
Note too, the fast square wave response transitions times do not ring, also very impressive.
I don't really even hear the single full range driver imaging that I hear with my Fibhorn 2, which is a 3 inch driver back loaded "horn" (though diyaudio experts think it's technically a transmission line). Fibhorn 2 also extends farther in treble (around 10k) and has flatter midbass....
If that’s all you care to read, there you go; I saved you some good minutes reading what is going to be quite an excessively long post. If you do want to dive more in-depth as to how I think it sounds, the features, and its quirks (and downsides; yes it has those), then read on.
I’m getting this out of the way first, because let’s be real; this is the most important thing. All of the following evaluation, unless explicitly stated otherwise, is from using the linear phase filter, fed from Pi2AES through AES,no attenuation from the built-in preamp (I will get to the preamp and various filters later on), and XLR out.
STUFF WE NEED TO BUY: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...hrow-away-your-pc-or-laptop.8878/#post-288017 The exception to above that we want the acrylic case for the 7" display instead of the regular one, and of course the official Raspberry Pi 7" Touch Screen Display
I ordered a variety pack of AZLA SednaEarfit XELASTEC tips from Amazon to try them out. I had heard from someone here that they run large, and you might need to go a half-size smaller with the XELASTEC tips. That turned out to be correct. I'm a M with Spiral Dots and a MS with the XELASTEC tips.
The Hestia is a 60 stepped relay attenuator. The flagship Denafrips preamp, the Athena, has the same specs with lower distortion numbers. The Athena by the way looks to be two Hestias in one box - one Hestia per channel. The same way the Hattor Big preamp just doubles up on the stepped attenuators when you step up from the Hattor Mini. I only mention this because I was originally going to buy the Athena, thinking bigger was better until I studied the specs and pictures a bit more - mainly noticing that despite double the number of relays the number of volume steps remained unchanged. I seriously doubt the two preamps sound any different. Folks at ASR might be willing to pay for the lower distortion numbers though. New, it will cost you about $900.
By the way, the HD800 S Anniversary Edition seems to be quite different from the HD800, and by extension, a little different from the HD800S. It's still an HD800 in terms of soundstage, timbre, transients; but the subjective tonal balance seems a bit different. I could be dreaming though. Will put this on the bench to confirm, but my sense is that the midrange dip is more evident, the 6kHz is no longer existent, but the highs are still up there. Also, the bass quality seems more in line with the HD800 than HD800S which sounded thicker to my ears (this is a good thing).
With the ZEN Phono, the "nothing better until we spend much more" argument is still valid, but there's also buy this because it's actually very very good. To be honest, the $149 price is absolutely shocking. With iFi, I would expect $399. But heck, let's see iFi bring it on for the masses. I hope iFi sells thousands and thousands of these.
List of rhythmdevils recommended neutral iem’s in order of price not including aftermarket tips:
- Surge+ dynamic waterproof iem 40$ now on sale otherwise 50$ - ever so slightly warm, great tonality.
- EDC3 100$ on drop.com with optional modded Symbios F Peel tips if stock tips are too small - neutral
- Sony M7 500$ now with Sony sale otherwise 700$ With Azla Sedna Earfit Light (NOT short) - neutral
- CA Androeda 2020 1,099$ with Penon Audio tips (see review for link to tips). - warmer than neutral but extremely resolving and fast
- CA Ara 1300$ with Azla Sedna Earfit Light Short tips - the most neutral iem I’ve heard with deep insertion.
- CA og Solaris 1499$ with normal not original or + or ++ tips - neutral
Where I will start is that I do expect the band members, or the drivers in this case, to play as a band and not as individuals. I don't expect the timbres of the different drivers to sound the same, as this is impossible, even with multi-way speakers. However, I do expect that the frequency ranges where the drivers overlap and hand the signal off, to sound cohesive and as seamless as possible. This is just one of my pet peeves, whether it comes to multi-driver speakers or IEMs (sometimes I wonder if folks outside of SBAF notice such things concerning overall cohesiveness.) The good news is that California Audio Technology or CAT, manages to pull this off with their Apollo hybrid IEM. The driver integration is on-par with another hybrid IEM that pulls it off decently, the Campfire Audio Solaris. That's two IEMs in my book (there may very well be more today, but I have not gotten my ears on them yet).
Balanced full scale in this unit seems to correspond to 6.22 Vrms, and so this will be 0 dBFS which in the plots that will follow is dBrA (referenced to 6.22 Vrms).
THD characterization at 4 Vrms are shown below:
We get THD+N of 105 dB (A-weighted) with 3rd harmonic slightly dominating the 2nd harmonic. Note also the delta-sigma modulated noise is effectively suppressed above fs/2 = 48 kHz.